Free sample essay paper on Comparing Theoretical Perspectives on Human Development (Lifespan Development-Psychology)

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The development of human beings is regarded to be very confusing at times. However, there are various theories which take to explain the development of a person. The following includes some of the developmental theories that I find intriguing;
1. Psychoanalytical Development Theory ( Sigmund Freud)
The psychoanalytical development theory was developed by Sigmund Freud. This work was developed  during his clinical works with mentally ill patients. Sigmund in his theory asserts that desires of the unconscious mind influences behavior (Bandura & Walters 1963). He designed the development of human beings in a sequence of psycho-sexual stages. Sigmund argued that the conflicts that are experienced at this stages have a life time impact on the behavior of an individual.
This theory was commonly applied in the early 20th century. Later on, Erickson developed this theory into an eight stage developmental theory (Bandura 2001). In his theory, Erickson argued that an individual behavior  is influenced by the social interactions and conflicts which are faced at every stage of development.
2. The cognitive development theory (Jean Piaget).
Jean Piaget was a Swiss psychologist who lived between 1896 and 1980. Piaget in his developmental theory argued that children usually lives/exists in their own world. He argued that children adapt in to their thinking to absorb new ideas through the process of assimilation (This is the adoption of new ideas in to the brain) and accommodation (This is the adjustment of new ideas in the brain with the old ones) (Bandura 2001).
Piaget construed that human beings undergo through stages before they understand the world fully. All the stages of human development are age related and they consist of distinct thinking. He structured human being development into the following stages: The sensorimotor stage which is the period of infancy (between 0-2 yrs). Secondly, is the preoperative stage which is the period between 2-7 yrs . At this stage, the child is able to represent the things he/she sees in the world in symbols, pictures  and words (Bandura 2001). The third stage was referred to as the concrete operational stage (between 7-11 yrs). At this stage the child can think logically and can perform operations. The fourth stage is referred to as the formal operational stage (between 11-14 yrs). Here, the individual thinks in a more logical and abstract terms.
Piaget argued that it is the advancement in understanding that makes every developmental stage more advanced than the previous one.
3. Ecological theory (Urie Bronfenbrenners).
This theory is also referred to as the Human ecology developmental theory. It argues that the development of an individual is purely influenced by the environment in which he/she lives in. He developed five cognitive environmental systems which affects the development of human psychology. They are:
  1. The micro system – This is the immediate environment in which an individual lives in and interacts with the most direct social agents. They include family, friends, neighbors and school.
  2. Mesosystem – This is the connection between the agents in the micro-system environment. It  Could be the relationship between experiences at school and at home.  
  • Exosystem – This is the result of the relationship between an individuals immediate environment and another one in which he/she does not have direct contact to (Bussey & Bandura 1999). For example, the behavior of children at home may be influenced by their parents experience at work.
  • Macro-system - This explains the cultural context of the environment in which an individual lives in. example include poverty, ethnic group and the political arena
  • Chronosystem - These are the transitions experienced in the course of development. This stage  considers the historical and social factors influencing the form of transition. An example of a transitions is divorce.

The cognitive developmental theory by Jean Piaget reflects ideas of Robert Kegans Constructive Development Theory. Also, kegan postulates that an individuals thinking develops as she or he grow s in life (Kegan 1994). The only difference between his theory and jeans theory is that he added a stage five in the development while Jeans theory consistent of four stages of development (Glanz, Rimer & Lewis 2002). However, he argues that most of the people do not reach the fifth stage in life. He stipulated that at stage five an individual can gauge the limits of his own value systems. He argues that at this stage an individual is not even minded on his well being but of the community, organization and country he represents.

Bandura, A. & Walters, R.H. (1963). Social Learning and Personality Development. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
Bandura, A. (2001). Social cognitive theory: An agentive perspective. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 1-26.
Bussey, K., & Bandura, A. (1999). Social cognitive theory of gender development and differentiation. Psychology Review, 106, 676-713.
Glanz, K., Rimer, B.K. & Lewis, F.M. (2002). Health Behavior and Health Education. Theory, Research and Practice. San Fransisco: Wiley & Sons.
Kegan, R. (1994). In over our heads. Boston: Havard UP.